LaPine Votes for Dual Membership Despite His Opposition
Although Patrick LaPine, president/CEO of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates and a CUNA board member, personally does not believe in the dual membership dues requirement, he voted in favor of maintaining it after discussing the issue with other league CEOs.
LaPine was elected earlier this year to the CUNA board of directors to represent league presidents in District 3, which includes North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.
On Friday, the CUNA board of directors voted to maintain the dual membership requirement despite a final recommendation by the CUNA System Structure and Governance Task Force to offer credit unions membership choice in CUNA and/or a league.
“In my personal opinion, I believe in dues optionality, and I don’t think that is any surprise to my colleagues,” LaPine said in an interview with CU Times Monday. “Representing the league presidents in District 3, and I spoke with all of them before the CUNA board meeting, my vote reflected the majority of my constituents.”
In a prepared statement, the CUNA board said Friday it believed the most effective advocacy model for credit unions is one in which credit unions are members of both their league and CUNA. As a result, the board took action to preserve the current membership structure.
Though discussions about this contentious, long-standing issue may be over for the CUNA board of directors, it is expected to begin next week for the board of directors of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates.
LaPine said he expects the 16-member LSCU board to discuss the task force recommendations and the actions taken by CUNA. The league board, which currently does not have an official position on the dual membership requirement, is scheduled to meet during a planning retreat next week.
“I think my board will want to have a robust discussion about what happened and then decide what we believe collectively is in the best interests of our member credit unions,” he said.
LaPine said he is not going to make any recommendations to the board, and he would not speculate what actions, if any, the board might take.
Nonetheless, LaPine believes the CUNA/league partnership is the best system to advance the advocacy goals and interests of the credit union industry.
“The CUNA board concluded that in order to be the most effective national advocacy organization, CUNA and league interdependence is essential,” LaPine wrote in his weekly column in the league’s newsletter eSignal Daily. “I whole-heartedly agree with this statement. However, I don’t agree that interdependence should be defined as requiring dual membership. To me, interdependence is defined by a shared vision and how we work and interact with one another to achieve a common goal.”
One of LaPine’s first acts as chair of CU Service Centers of Alabama was to update the bylaws to remove a provision that required Alabama credit unions to be league members if they wanted to be members of the shared branching network.
“Philosophically, I didn’t believe it is right to force credit unions to be a member of the league in order for their members to have access to the many benefits of shared branching,” he wrote. “In my mind, if LSCU could not put forth a value proposition of why credit unions should be an affiliate of the league, then we didn’t deserve their membership dues.”
Earlier on Monday, the Michigan Credit Union League announced it would allow its credit unions to join the league without joining CUNA.
“The MCUL board passed a resolution that will enable Michigan credit unions to affiliate with the MCUL, regardless of whether the credit union is affiliated with the Credit Union National Association,” according to a Michigan league email obtained by CU Times that was sent to credit union members Monday. “This action will take effect with the 2016 affiliation cycle.”
Though calling the CUNA board’s decision disappointing, the Michigan league said it respected the national association’s right to take action on its own membership requirements.
With this membership requirement change, the board is strongly encouraging credit unions to continue affiliation with both CUNA and the Michigan league.
“In Michigan, we have a 99% affiliation rate with both associations, and we continue to believe that it is vitally important for the health of our industry and for the success of our advocacy efforts that credit unions remain affiliated with both associations,” the league wrote in its email. “However, in rare instances, whether due to financial hardship or for other important reasons, a credit union in Michigan may find it necessary to affiliate only with the MCUL.”